10-year-old girl dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba while swimming
Valley Mills Elementary School student Lily Mae Avant, 10, died overnight Monday in a Fort Worth hospital after swimming in the Brazos River and contracting a rare infection caused by a fresh water amoeba, the first symptoms of which typically appear about a week after the amoeba enters the nose.
KWTX reports Lily died after a battle over the weekend. She swam in the Brazos River and Lake Whitney over the Labor Day weekend and then came down with a headache and a fever last weekend after swimming in a pool.
Her health quickly deteriorated.
She was taken first to a local hospital and then was transferred to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
“The doctors told us there is nothing more that they can do for her and they have exhausted all resources due to the fact that this is such a fatal disease and it claims its victims so quickly,”
“Most people that lose their life to this battle they lose between day three and day five; well today is day six for our Lily,” she said.
“For this to happen to her when there were so many other people in the same waters on the same days we just don’t understand why it was her.”
The girl and her family live along the Brazos River in Laguna Park.
In Whitney, where Lily attended school several years ago, students and teachers observed two moments of silence Friday as a show of support.
The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Thursday that a Bosque County resident has primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection caused by the so-called brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which is typically found in fresh water bodies such as ponds, lakes and rivers.
“The amoeba is present in freshwater across Texas and elsewhere in the US, and there’s no particular body of water that would present a greater risk. Cases are extremely rare, despite the millions of people who swim in lakes and rivers every year,” agency spokesman Chris Van Deusen said.
To reduce your risk of infection:
- Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels
- Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs
- Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters
- Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm, freshwater areas
- Use only sterile, distilled, or lukewarm previously boiled water for nasal irrigation or sinus flushes (e.g., Neti Pot usage, ritual nasal ablution, etc.)
(Source: Texas Department of State Health Services)